“Public sector cuts and a 2% cap on pay rises overshadow positive education initiatives in this budget,” said Helen Richardson, AEU Tasmania President.
“Any further cuts to schools, colleges or TAFE are completely unacceptable when educators are already at breaking point with unmanageable workloads.
“The Hodgman government has already cut per student funding in public schools which has meant support for students has gone backwards.
“Cuts to administration and support would mean teachers spending even more time at the photocopier rather than lesson planning, and principals doing more paperwork means less time improving teaching and learning at their school.
“Premier Will Hodgman has said he wants Tasmania to “lead the nation in education” yet he’s insisting on artificially holding down educator pay rises.
“The 2% cap on public sector pay rises will hit Teacher Assistants hardest – some take home as little as $25,000 a year and rely on Centrelink payments when they are stood down without pay during school holidays,” said Ms Richardson.
“TasTAFE is already struggling to attract and retain teachers who get paid more on the tools than in the classroom and a 2% cap on pay rises will exacerbate an existing recruitment problem in speciality areas.
“Asking TasTAFE teachers to fund their own pay rises will hurt recruitment and push experienced teachers back into their industry, putting TasTAFE back into crisis.
OTHER AREAS OF CONCERN – NO ADDITIONAL PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT STAFF
In addition to major concerns about Government imposed cuts and salary caps, the AEU is very disappointed that the budget contains no provision for the recruitment of additional professional support staff such as school psychologists and speech therapists.
“The Government knows there is a chronic shortage of specialists such as speech therapists and psychologists with kids waiting a whole year for an assessment, and longer still for actual support. This is totally unacceptable.”
EDUCATION INITIATIVES THAT ARE WELCOME:
Students with disability
Transitioning from an IQ to “needs-based” system of funding for students living with disability is welcomed and something the AEU and other stakeholders have lobbied for.
“Under the new model many more students will be eligible for support and it is not clear that the money budgeted will be enough to meet student need,” said Ms Richardson.
Support for students with trauma and behavioural issues
“It is pleasing to finally see acknowledgement from the Government that there are increasing numbers of students with trauma in schools and we want to see this funding in schools as soon as possible,” said Ms Richardson.
Additional teacher assistant support for primary schools
“We welcome money that delivers on the Government’s election commitment to hire an additional 80 Teacher Assistants in Prep classes.
New child and family centres
“Early support for young children in disadvantaged communities is vital and we know the Child and Family Centre model is highly successful so we welcome the investment in additional facilities we have been advocating for.”
“We welcome additional investment in TAFE and are seeking more details about the initiatives proposed.
Harriet Binet, 0427 841 760